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Aereo loses in court again; still not necessarily dead

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 11:56am
Brian Santo

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to hear Aereo’s argument that if it is, as the Supreme Court deemed, essentially a cable company, it must be treated like one – a path that would have allowed the company to continue operating, albeit in a radically different way.

The decision doesn’t spell the final doom of Aereo. The company can still pursue its argument, but it will have to do so at the district court level.

The Supreme Court ruling made Aereo subject to copyright law, which as a practical matter meant the company would have to start paying broadcasters for redistributing their content, which Aereo hadn’t done previously.

That blew up Aereo’s entire business model, so in the wake of the decision, the company voluntarily ceased operations.

But then the company reasoned that if it is a cable company, it should be treated as such. Aereo tried to register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (which oversees copyright) as a cable company. The USPTO said the company does not qualify as a cable company, regardless of the Supreme Court decision – though it said it would defer to a court decision on the matter.

So Aereo went to the courts, but apparently the wrong one. The Court of Appeals’ decision is basically saying that it was the wrong court to go to.

So Aereo still has the potential for a revival, but it needs to decide if it wants to pursue its legal strategy at a different court level.

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